Lizzy Grant vs Lana Del Rey

There’s been a whole lot of hoopla in the press and on the internet surrounding hype act of the minute, Ms. Lana Del Rey. Specifically, her recent transformation from the artist we once knew as Elizabeth (Lizzy) Grant to the indie darling we’re now familiar with. While some blogs and mainstream press have embraced the new talent, many critics and bloggers are dismissing her as “manufactured” – revealing details about the management team and producers who revamped her name and persona, the semi-wealthy father who funded the project, the supposed lip plumpings and Lana’s sudden alt-indie retro claims to fame. So what’s really good in all of this nonsense?

Lana Del Rey’s recent takeover of the blogosphere reminds me of a slew of talented women before her who have made drastic changes and repackaged their brand in order to obtain their break in music (i.e. Stefani Germanotta’s career in 2006 and her image reconstruction to Lady Gaga). Some call it ‘selling out.’ People in the business call it ‘artist development.’ Whatever you call it, it’s easy to forget that an essential part of being an artist in the music business is the consistent evolution necessary to remain relevant in an industry where artists are cycled in and out at will.

 

An artist changing their image from “inauthentic folk singing girl next door” to “pouty-lipped good girl gone bad dressed in vintage singing sadcore” in an attempt to have their music heard isn’t anything new. However, it can often backfire, leaving people questioning who you really are. I have no major qualms about the Lizzy-to-Lana image make-over, nor do I want to contribute to the (over)hype. But I’m not willing to hand out any fake-it-til-you-make-it free passes, either. It can be disheartening to discover an artist purporting themselves – to find out that the fabric of indie retro glamour and femininity that an artist has draped herself in to succeed may be manufactured is disappointing.

Nevertheless when I take a closer look, Lana Del Ray doesn’t appear to be hiding her past. Links from lizzygrant.com direct visitors to the Lana Del Rey website. Old Lizzy Grant music videos still exist on YouTube at her own will, albeit with a note urging fans to focus on her new music. Even songs released under the Lizzy moniker have found their way into Lana’s catalog (‘Kill Kill,’ ‘Yayo’), with some slight sonic changes. Now with mainstream blogs picking up her music and the recent booking on SNL, it’s becoming obvious that something is working.

 

As interesting as the claims of ‘manufactured’ may be, they distract from an essential truth: Lana Del Rey’s vocals are intriguing and the talent is there. Before teaming up with the super production team of Liam Howe (Sneaker Pimps), Chris Braide and Emile Haynie, Lizzy Grant’s voice was untamed, folky and her music was wearisome at best; where Lana is well produced on lush, emotionally vulnerable-sounding tracks featuring a more jazz influenced vocal style. While her spliced collage approach to music videos remains unchanged – and the plumped up lips do raise an eye – it’s the switch in lyrical content, bad girl image and the obvious change in vocal instrumentation and inflection that caught my attention. And with the recent addition of uber-producers Albarn and Womack (Blue Jeans), she’s collected a solid team of musicians behind her.

Eager to hear if Lana Del Rey’s voice carries as well on stage as is does in the studio, I recently headed to the Troubador in LA to see her perform; her last show in Los Angeles for a while. Surrounded by the musically hip, hipsters and the occasional music agent, I was lucky to experience the live aspect of her music and persona – and I wasn’t disappointed. Upon taking the stage, Lana appeared comfortable and emitted a somewhat ethereal charm. There was an aloofness to her presence and she wasted no time putting her new vocal style display.

Within the first eight bars of “Born To Die”, my thoughts instantly went to Fiona Apple channeling Anita O’Day and Nancy Sinatra. She had a brooding, haunting vocal style that swung in and out of high pitched nasal intonation with ease (“Radio”, “Summertime Sadness”) and floated back and forth between a sing-song and hip hop delivery (“You Can Be The Boss”). “Off To The Races” was the high point of the show and the clear crowd favorite, with Lana adding extras to her quirky little vocal tricks. In all, it was the perfect mix of songs to showcase this odd instrument. It was impressive to watch. No matter how you’re feeling about Lana, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have been disappointed in this show.

So in the battle of Lizzy Grant vs Lana Del Rey, it seems the latter is winning. Lizzy was boring and directionless. Lana is exciting and the focused result of careful planning and musical crafting. She may not look or sound like the artist she once was, but in this situation the changes she has made have equated to progress. Now we can sit back, appreciate her hotness and watch how long she can keep this up.

Troubador Set list/Good List of Music to Check Out:
Born To Die
Blue Jeans
Radio
Million Dollar Man
Summertime Sadness
Video Games
You Can Be The Boss
Off To The Races

Ericka is the woman behind one of Autostraddle’s favorite music blogs, Music Nerdery. Check it out!


Are you following us on Facebook?

Profile gravatar of Ericka

has written 6 articles for us.

54 Comments

  1. You are so right.

    I feel like music blogs/commenters spend so much time finding things to hate. It’s totally arbitrary. Say, the insane adoration for Bon Iver vs. the hatred for acts like LDR and The Black Keys, who are somewhat cognizant of their style as a whole.

    It’s similar to the backlash against Gaga- there are still articles being written about her “authenticity,” whether it be about her past being bullied, her life on the LES in her late teens, etc. (See: this month’s Vanity Fair). Who cares? Gaga is talented, period.

    Regardless, the talent is certainly there. I personally love LDR and can’t wait to hear more.

  2. Speaking as an artist/writer/musician, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an “image shift,” or a new name.

    Most talented artists rarely ever want to do just “one thing,” or one “type” of music. Being an artist, in it’s true definition, is what makes a lot of people able to breathe and get through boring everyday life.

    I myself use a “stage name” if you will, to release one type of music (electronic) and have used other names for other types of music. It’s a good way to let people know what they are going to get. Aphex Twin, for example, has used at least, I dunno 10 (probably like 20) different pseudonyms to release a VERY broad spectrum of music. That way when people search, “Polygon Window” they know what they are getting, instead of “Caustic Window” of “Afx” or “The Tuss”.

    Other artists, such as Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr Bungle, etc) choose to different “bands” to be with under a certain name, while still maintaining their real name, and basically letting there fans know “What you should expect from me, is to not know what to expect,” which is also fine and admirable.

    So yeah, journalists and fans will say what they will, and everyone has a right to, but it’s the artists true right, to do whatever the hell they want.

    Sure there’s a lot of “manufactured” artists out there, but entertainment is entertainment and you either like it or don’t, and you move on and focus on what really floats your boat.

    I’ve met a nice handful of famous, non-famous but very talented (and well known “underground”) artists, and occasionally have had the opportunity to discuss the phenomenon of fans backlash from when they’ve moved on in their careers and done something different. Most often the answer from them consisted of “I used to do something, now I do something else and it makes me happy.”
    🙂

  3. i was so nervous to read this because i am so very bored of people on the internet ~radically exposing~ lana del rey’s past career. i mean, she talks about it in interviews and things, it’s not like a big deal. but anyway i am in love with her and it’s all very complicated and nobody understands

    • I know right? I spent a significant amount of time clicking between autostraddle and tumblr while try to decide if this article would just infuriate me/bore me or be actually worthwhile. Kudos to the writer for accomplishing the latter.

      Seriously internet. Lizzie grew up and changed her name. Her music is way better now. The end.

        • The exact same thing happened to me, when I told a friend of mine I thought everything about her was insanely pretty he sent me a truck load of links to blog articles about how fake and “troubling” her existence is. The worst part of the conversation might have been when he told me I shouldn’t encourage acts like her, as a woman, because her “submissive” lyrics and vintage style glamourise a period in history where women were treated terribly.

          I am really glad this article exists because it’s exactly how I feel about all this overblown nonsense. Also I am jealous that you got to see Lana live.

          • LOOOL. Submissive whats? vintage style means treated badly? OMG. Those peoples opinions would have been discounted by default. lmao.

            Hey, Im lucky I got to see her live too… I got tickets via a friend and I heard they were scalping for around $150… the struggle is real.

  4. I’ve always thought people who are obsessed with “authenticity” in music aren’t really music fans at all, but more concerned with using it as a label with which they want to signal their own hipness/sophistication/superiority. Hence popular artists are always terrible, except for that obscure early album which the hipster had the taste to like, but you’ve never heard of because you’re not cool. I just don’t care if somebody is manufactured or not, do they have any good tunes?

    • oh you know 90% of the complaints are coming from “Hipsters” and “Purists” who need to project their snobbery on any and everything around em.

      youre right, everyones a bit manufactered to a point. can you SING and do you have HITS is what i wanna know. lol.

  5. I really don’t like Lana. I do think her image/style/music is manufactured. She’s clearly seeking a particular audience. For me, people like her overshadow musicians with an action voice and vision and it makes me sad.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s beautiful and a couple of her songs are good. However, what you see is what you get with her. I’ve seen her live and she looks like a deer in headlights, nothing special. Just like Lady Gaga, you’re buying into Lana and her vibe/image as a commodity. Actually, I think I give Lady Gaga more credit, at least she’s a prolific songwriter.

    • Hey, I totally agree with you. It just does not sit well with me, being force-fed lies in such a manner. What really irks me the most is that in many interviews she refutes that she wants to be famous:
      “I didn’t sign up to be famous, I just wanted to sing. It’s so annoying, but what am I going to do?”
      girl, you completely re-manufactured your identity, filled up your lips, and you say that was not all for fame?
      Then she pulls a LG claiming she lived in a trailer and starved even though we know her father is a multi-millionaire.
      Her music is good, I guess. Her voice is interesting. But her persona is all lies.

      • The thing about her father and her family living in the Trailer is true… just up until her father got rich off of domain names. But I totally understand what youre saying.

        You cant claim you wanna just sing and be irritated with the attention when youve obviously made changes to your entire persona for the attention.

        But she can SING tho.

    • But all music is commodified. When you get to a certain level of success, doing interviews and peddling records on a larger scale I mean that’s all part of packaging and commodifying yourself and your work. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s nothing to judge necessarily–authenticity doesn’t mean anything at all in the music industry. It’s like this mythic ideal, you know? It’s music’s American Dream.

      • If you wanna hit that MAINSTREAM… it really is true. You will have to change and adjust your style and image if you want that. And its common place in American Music. I just think change in general is hard for people to put up with. Especially when it comes to public figures/musicians/themselves/whatever.

  6. I love Lizzy Grant and her alter-ego Lana Del Rey. Both carry this certain vulnerability in their writing along with conflict of feelings. Although there are slightly different sounds, at the basis of what made “each artist”, it’s the same thing. I don’t think it was that drastic of a change. I had no idea that Saturday Night Live performance was confirmed. Proud of her! I am not one of those people to scream about who’s an authentic artist and who is not. There are certain people you know that just make songs to get hits with no careful crafting(Katy Perry) and others who make music for the love and fun of it (Lady Gaga). I believe Lana Del Rey and Lizzy both fit into the love and fun of it.

    • Yeah you can see the change… but its not like a Lady Gaga change going on. And its some of the same music, just repackaged and redone. Katy Perry is another great example of that.

      Yeah shes already booked SNL without an album out. Supposedly rare. Wanna see what she has up her sleeve for that one.

  7. My music philosophy is basically, does it sound good? Is it hateful or mean or just plain shallow? No? Okay awesome lets listen to this bizz. I don’t care about the musician unless they so incredibly good or bad things I.E I like Gagas charity work, and I won’t listen to artists who blatantly degrade women etc. So: she sounds sleepy and dreamy and sexy and its awesome.

  8. All music may be a commodity including non-mainstream music BUT you can be successful and still be genuine! Despite what many may believe, success and honesty in music are not mutually exclusive. Look at someone like Beyonce – she’s gone through transformations, she’s mainstream and I still want to listen to her and like her. Lana is not genuine and that’s the problem.

    • who said music was a commodity?
      we know success and being genuine arent exclusive. no one ever said it wasnt. but this isnt the first time someone has switched up the plan to get on. beyonce included.

      funny you bring up beyonce however, who also has a history of nose jobs, lacefront weaves, the huge legal mess that was destinys child, and a LONG list of copyright infringements on her legal plate right now. have you ever looked that up? beyonce steals. a LOT. frankly, the fact that you excuse beyonce’s long history of industry fuckery but shun lana for getting her shit together is questionable.

      this is that moment where im not sure what you want.

      • If you scroll up someone mentioned mainstream music as a commodity. Also, I don’t really care if someone gets their lips/face/ass lipo’d that’s just part of the business and I certainly didn’t base my opinion on Lana’s lips.

        I am aware of Beyonce’s legal background – I work in entertainment, copyright and media law. I still do think she’s genuine in her music at least tolerable as a mainstream pop artist.

        C’mon dude, look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGR1iDuKabU you can’t pretend to be cool. It screams desperate.

        • LOL the trailer for that. Well if you thought that was desperate, dont watch the video.

          and cool. if you work in the industry, you’ll know that beyonce has a tendency to be a bit stealy. a lot. i see her has a manufactured identity more than i did lana.

          • Lana’s voice is decent, I wasn’t totally blown away live, but it isnt bad. It’s the package that turns me off. I do understand why they are rolling the dice with her, she’s beautiful and ethereal. The lack of interviews adds to the persona.I still don’t buy it though.

            Also yeah, the Beyonce legal disputes are complex – they mostly comes down contract law and who can pay for the better attorney at this point unfortunately. Musicians need to either read before they sign and be fully informed of their obligations and the terms, or find an attorney that can explain it to them. Time after time musicians get fucked because they didn’t read or understand what they signed. I see it all the time.

  9. honestly I was quite surprised at her sudden popularity – she’s not great but not bad either, I really just don’t see anything special about her. every song I’ve heard of hers have been nothing more than average, I feel like every other indie “artist” in Brooklyn can produce similar songs given her marketing budget. so why is she the one that “makes it” and not all those other equally talented unknowns? smh

    • LOL Brooklyn.

      well I dont know about that. there is St. Vincent, who has been getting on and kicking ass. and shes cooler than lana. a couple of other chicks too.

      good point tho. so much talent out there, why her?
      managerial connections.

  10. Wow…she sure did suck on SNL last night. After last night’s train wreck performance, I went to watch her YouTube video to see what the hubbub is about. Its a pout lip sync vanity video with clips in the style of 1989. Her talent is not professional enough to garner the attention she is getting. Its very clear she cant perform well. Musicians start with being performers first. Artists write, perform, and create because they have to and have no choice…it doesn’t matter if it gets the attention of the world or not. Marketing and development uses previous popular styles and performances to create a product for attention and profit. She is a product…and not a good one. What a horrible waste of everyone’s time she is. I hope she is not as selfish as her product makes her out to be.

    • yeah i heard she sucked. didnt watch it though. too busy writing about lianne la havas. i wasnt surprised, the pressure of SNL cracks alot of people, and frankly it looks like she picked the wrong songs. she didnt suck live in LA though. so at least i got my monies worth.

  11. Pingback: Lana Del Rey – Off to the races | Now is not the Rhyme.

  12. Pingback: Autostraddle + Music Nerdery = The “Lizzy Grant vs. Lana Del Rey” Discussion. | Music Nerdery.

  13. Lana del Rey is so cute,I love it.
    I found a new artist by the face on youtube channel look at this,is beautiful girl and beautiful voice I love it.

    ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTLvJXu9x-U&feature=plcp

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.